— Michael Guggenheim

Archive
Tag "Representation"

Here is a new article, co-authored with Bernd Kräftner and Judith Kröll. Soon out as part of a nice special issue of Distinktion on the “medium is the message” edited by Michael Liegl and Elke Wagner, DOI: 10.1080/1600910X.2013.838977

 

abstract:

If the media of research figure in the constitution of the sociological phenomenon, how is it possible to find out how they do so? Drawing on Garfinkel’s idea of breaching experiments, we propose such an experiment to unearth the role of the media of sociology. The breaching experiment consists in an experimental setup to produce new disaster scenarios and accompanying forms of emergency provision. In the experiment, research subjects are asked to play in a sandbox with animal figures and other props to simulate disasters. The subjects are first asked to ‘build a world’, then to ‘turn the world upside down’, and finally to find an ‘emergency provision that would change the course of the disaster’. These plays are recorded with a purpose- built computer program and photographed and then transformed into fables and emergency provisions. The experiment breaks with three assumptions of media-use in sociology: First, sociologists use media exclusively for description, not creation of worlds. Second, sociologists do not tinker or produce their own recording technologies for specific research questions, but use existing ones, which define subdisciplines. Third, sociologists routinely rely on texts as the sole medium to represent the world.

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an article forthcoming in the British Journal of Sociology (pdf). (table)

abstract:

Sociologists have increasingly come to recognize that the discipline has unduly privileged textual representations, but efforts to incorporate visual and other media are still only in their beginning. This paper develops an analysis of the ways objects of knowledge are translated in research into other media, in order to understand the visual practices of sociology and to point out unused possibilities. I argue that the discourse on visual sociology, by assuming that photographs are less objective than text, is based on an asymmetric media-determinism and on a misleading notion of objectivity. Instead, I suggest to analyze media with the concept of translations. I introduce several kinds of translations, most centrally the one between tight and loose ones. I show that many sciences, such as biology, focus on tight translations, using a variety of media and manipulating both research objects and representations. Sociology, in contrast, uses both tight and loose translations, but uses the latter only for texts. For visuals, sociology restricts itself to what I call “the documentary”: focussing on mechanical recording technologies without manipulating either the object of research or the representation. I conclude by discussing three rare examples of what is largely excluded in sociology: visual loose translations, visual tight translations based on non-mechanical recording technologies, and visual tight translations based on mechanical recording technologies that include the manipulation of both object and representation.

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A new post with the same title that I have written over at the CSISP blog. What was it? What could it be? Find out. Written as a preparation for the IVSA 2013 conference at Goldsmiths, where I organize a panel, and where we start our new, world’s first, MA in Visual Sociology.

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In : STI-Studies, Special Issue on “The Five Senses of the Sciences”, Vol. 7, 2011, No. 1, pp. 65-86

abstract:

What could it mean to use cooking as a medium or translation device for sociology? Why is the use of media other than writing so unusual in sociology, but not in other sciences? The sociology of translation has made the claim that sociology should stay true to its object. Rather than jumping into abstractions, sociology should translate its object step by step. I show, that if this holds, then the sociology of translation fails its own claim to what I call “truth to materials”, because in its practice it engages in jumps in media from objects, such as food, image or body, to text. Instead, I propose to take the issue of truth to materials more serious by engaging, as other sciences, more directly with the senses. What prevents the sociology of translation from doing so is a belief in mechanical objectivity that excludes all other forms of translation except texts. For the case of taste, this suggests to engage in cooking. In the second part of the text I provide an attempt to create such more nuanced translations in the form of a buffet that we cooked as comment to a symposium. Some of the issues that were discussed with the help of the buffet were new kitchen technologies, the relationship between the visual and the olfactory, and the relationship between knowledge and taste.

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